Graduate employability learning through Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction (SDLMI) driven digital app

Aisha Abbas*, Maria Iqbal , Elizabeth Boyle, Gavin Baxter, Alan Williams, S.A. Petersen, Ewa Topolewska-Siedzik, Athanassios Jimoyiannis, Panagiotis Tsiotakis, Graham Scott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

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Teaching graduate employability skills (GES) is a complex phenomenon that needs to be considered from the higher education (HE), employer, policy, and student perspectives. This 4- EU countries partnership research has developed a digital application (App) to assist higher education students in thinking more actively about their employability skills, supporting them to be better prepared for employers. The app allows the students to plan, record and evidence the acquisition and development of graduate employability skills (GESs) throughout their university journey. This downloadable app provides an active, agentic approach to supporting students in thinking about their skills and self-development by using motivational and interactive exercises, achievable goal-based tasks, and inducing in users a sense of fun and self-actualization patterns that will help to raise awareness of varied employability issues. As “digital natives” who have been brought up with digital technology and embrace universal smartphone use, an app-based approach to GESs development is highly attractive. Drawing upon the elements of the self-determined learning model of instruction (SDLMI), the GES-App uses motivational, interactive exercises and achievable goal-based tasks, to induce a sense of fun in users and develop self-actualization patterns that will help to raise awareness of employability issues.

A mixed-methods approach was adopted in this 8-phase study. Phases I and II explored the existing literature on graduate employability skills (GESs) and existing E-learning material supporting GESs. To ensure a user-centric app design, Phase III comprised data collection from the stakeholders (students, academics and employers) via interviews, focus groups and a survey to gain a holistic understanding of user requirements for the GES-App. Analysis of this qualitative and quantitative data has informed the iterative process of App design and content development during phases IV-VII of the project.

Results obtained:
The reviewed literature has finalized a typology of employability skills classified across:
(i) Hard Skills,
(ii) Organizational Skills,
(iii) Communication & Interpersonal Skills,
(iv) Personal Skill, Values and attitudes, and
(v) general workplace skills; In-depth review of the existing apps and digital resources has confirmed absence of a Learning resource this project is offering.

The user-centric app design has outlined the key components of the app’s content and functionality. Currently, the project is developing activities to allow users to track the progress of their skills development and set targets based on their dream jobs. App’s prototype has been developed in the FIGMA prototyping tool and is currently entering the user testing phase.

Implications and Value:
It is hoped that the GES App will contribute to enhanced potential for the continuous development of GESs, with students gaining more awareness of their abilities and taking responsibility for planning their professional development to achieve success and satisfaction in their careers. It could potentially increase their career mobility and resilience in the global employment market and contribute to the European economy. The GES App and support materials will provide a very valuable downloadable resource for careers guidance and academic employability practitioners in HE institutions across Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationINTED2022 Proceedings
Place of PublicationValencia
PublisherInternational Academy of Technology, Education and Development
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9788409377589
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2022
Event16th International Technology, Education and Development Conference - Online Conference
Duration: 7 Mar 20228 Mar 2022

Publication series

NameIATED Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)2340-1079


Conference16th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Abbreviated titleINTED2022
Internet address


  • graduate employability skills
  • heutagogy
  • learning employability skills
  • transferrable skills


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